Qualitative Methods

3. Observation

Exercise 1

Goal of Exercise: to determine if user understands the relevance of mixed modes and the concept that quantitative data is limited in telling a full story (concept application for observational methods).

In this exercise the user will read the following:

Hypothesis: Differences in ‘ceremonial order’ contribute to differences in treatment when services provided through a 'public' (i.e. provided through the British National Heath Service) versus 'private' (i.e. fee for service) clinic.

Are the quantitative results able to adequately address this hypothesis?

User selects: Addresses / Does not Address

Selecting ‘Does not Address’ would have the remediation “Correct” and lead the user to a secondary question:

Question: What other methodology might help to address the research question regarding the role of ceremonial order?

Interview: Possible Option. This method would be appropriate in that it seeks to see through the participants’ eyes, however, some limitations of this approach include relying on subjects’ accounts when what people do is more complicated than they can tell you. Thus, a more appropriate method would have been observation.

Observation: Best Option. This method would be most appropriate in that it allows you to observe process that may be hidden even to participants and thus to discover unpredicted activities…As with all research methods, limitations exist, such as the length of study needed, but this method is the most likely approach to address the hypothesis.

Focus Groups: Poor Option. This method would not be appropriate because, like interviews, it relies on subjects’ accounts. The limits outweigh the benefits of cost efficiency and time.

Document Review: Poor Option. This method would not be appropriate because it depends on subjects’ accounts. Also…documents may conceal important social processes; indeed, sometimes, they may be deliberately constructed to do this (e.g. claims to insurance companies may be written so as to extract the maximum payment).

If the user selects ‘Addresses’ the remediation would be:

“Incorrect”. The quantitative data provide confirmation that there are differences and in the direction expected, but they do not provide information on how the ‘ceremonial order’ affects differences in treatment.” From this point, the user would be presented with the same question as above (rather than requiring them to return to choose Does not Address.